How to Engrave Patterns Using a Dremel

By Justin Mattick
When engraving with a dremel, you should go slow and steady.

Much time and preparation goes into any project, and engraving with a dremel is no exception. Important steps must be taken even before the dremel starts biting into the wood, and you must consider important steps as you go about the engraving process. If you take the time to prepare and engrave your dremel project, you will have an end result to be proud of.

Preparing to Engrave

Sketch the pattern on a piece of paper. It is a good idea to draw it out first, without it being to scale, so you can get a rough idea of what you want the pattern to look like.

Go back and fix anything that you need to on the sketch until you have exactly what you want to engrave on the wood. Make sure when sketching on the paper to press lightly with your pencil. This will help if you have to erase anything.

Get a piece of scrap material that has the same dimensions as the material you want the finished project to be on.

Transfer the pattern to the scrap material by copying your scale drawing onto whatever median you have chosen, only this time the pattern will be full size. Use a pencil with a good eraser. Keep in mind that what you are drawing on the scrap material is the same size and dimensions that will be on the real material you are using for the finished product. Make sure the design fits onto the scrap material like you want it to fit on the real thing. Use the eraser to fix any size or dimension problems until you have successfully drawn the pattern on the material.

Engraving Process

Use an engraving cutter in your dremel. Cutters can be found at any home improvement store such as Lowes or Home Depot. Descriptions of the cutters can be found on dremel.com. The engraving cutters vary in size. The bigger they are, the wider your engraving will be. It is good to experiment on a scrap piece of wood to determine the size of engraving cutter you will need.

Hold the dremel between your thumb and index finger, like you would a pencil. According to dremel.com, the best way to use the engraving tip is on the side, not straight up and down.

Practice engraving on the scrap material like you will eventually do on the real thing. The more you practice on the scrap material, the better the finished product will be.

Carefully bring the tip of the engraver into contact with the scrap material, and slowly begin to follow the pattern you have drawn. The slower you go, the straighter and cleaner your lines will look. Be sure to hold the dremel with both hands, because it can sometimes get away from you. How deep you go into the wood is up to you, so do not press to hard unless you want to make a deep cut.

Copy your pattern onto the piece of material you will be using for your finished product. Use the same method you used to copy the pattern onto the scrap piece of material. Once it is to your specifications, repeat the same process you used to engrave the pattern onto the scrap piece. The key is to go slow, and hold the tool steady.

Tip

To help save some time, keep track of the dimensions of the pattern that you draw on the scrap piece of material. You can use these same dimensions on the material you intend to use for your finished product. Go slow and steady. Experiment with the different dremel bits to see exactly how each one cuts. Blow away the dust that will accumulate while you are cutting so you can have a clear view of the engraving area.

Warning

Keep your fingers clear of the rotating bit.

References

Resources

About the Author

Justin Mattick is an elementary and middle school science and math teacher. He attended Pensacola Christian College where he graduated with a B.S in elementary education and an M.S. in science education. He has had articles published by eHow and COD.